Saturday, September 27, 2014

Quote for Day: The Clear, Publicly Stated Goal of Christian Right's "Religious Freedom" Crusade — Taking Control of Senate

Frederick Clarkson on the clear and publicly stated goal of the Christian right's "Values Voter" Summit with its claim (which I discussed yesterday) that "religious freedom" is under attack in the U.S. right now:

Gay Music Director of Parish Who Marries? Scandal; Priests Who Engage in Sexual Improprieties Sitting on Marriage Tribunals? Not So Much

How's this for news? A headline in yesterday's Star Tribune (Minneapolis) reads, "Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis Assigns Accused Priests to Marriage Annulment Panel." Jean Hopfensperger reports that the marriage tribunal for the archdiocese, which makes rulings on the fate of the troubled marriages of Catholics who turn to the tribunal for annulments, has had sitting on its judgment bench priests known to have engaged in sexual improprieties.

Friday, September 26, 2014

More Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "This 'Religious Liberty' Fiction of the Hierarchs Is a Thinly Veiled Political Gambit"

And, in contrast to the previous posting, this is one of the good birdcage droppings — the non-stinky ones: at the Commonweal blog, Paul Moses notes that the U.S. Catholic bishops have a "long way to go" to convince Catholics to get on board their "religious liberty" train. As Moses notes, a new poll done by the Public Religion Research Institute shows that a majority of U.S. Catholics (51%) do not share the bishops' perception that religious freedom is under attack in the United States today.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Shocker — LGBT Is Incompatible with Being Catholic"

This is one of the stinky sort: someone calling himself 3DeadInChi-cah-goh logs into the National Catholic Reporter thread discussing Bob Shine's article about the plethora of firings of LGBT employees in Catholic institutions of late to say sarcastically: 

End-of-Week Commentary on Growing Gap Between Super-Rich Elite and Everyone Else: Erosion of Democratic Values, Democratic Societies

More end-of-week tidbits: I'll leave it to you to spot the common theme of this batch.

End-of-Week Commentary on Religious Matters: Religious-Right Gathering, White Evangelicals' Persecution Complex, Banning of Theologian Tina Beattie, "Unchanging"? Church Teaching, WWJD?

As the work week ends, some thought-provoking observations I've gleaned from things I've read in the past several days, all with a religious (and/or a religion-and-politics) focus:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Archbishop Nienstedt, Firing of Gay Catholic Employees, and Upholding Teachings of the Church: Critical Reflection

Yesterday, I noted that anti-gay culture-warrior archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis forced the resignation of a music director, Jamie Moore, in a Catholic parish in Victoria, Minnesota, after Moore married his partner last weekend. I linked to a report about this story by Madeleine Baran of Minnesota NPR. 

A Reader Writes about Commenting at National Catholic Reporter: "I Posted, 'This Bigotry Against Gays Is Evil and Must Stop' . . . It Got Removed"

Yesterday, I wrote that people who read the National Catholic Reporter and this blog have emailed me for some time now to express concern and ask questions about why NCR seems to close comments on some articles — especially ones related to gay issues, they maintain — so quickly now, when it didn't seem to do that in the past. 

Walter Brueggemann on Theology of Ferguson: "Every Revolutionary Movement Needs People Who Think and Study and Write and Analyze"

Micky Jones interviews biblical theologian Walter Brueggemann for the Theology of Ferguson website. Jones tells Brueggemann,

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mug Shots of Three Arrested in Philadelphia Gay-Bashing Incident Released, All Three Are Grads of Archbishop Wood Catholic High

Former Archbishop and Vatican Ambassador to Dominican Republic Józef Wesołowski Under "House Arrest" in Vatican

In the miscellany of news links I just posted, I did also intend to mention the story of the Vatican's "house arrest" of former archbishop and Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic Józef Wesołowski, about whom I wrote back in August. As I noted then, the blockbuster report about this story that Laurie Goodstein published in the New York Times appeared to spur the Vatican to some action: it appeared to lead to a Vatican statement that Wesołowski, whom the Vatican had whisked away to Rome when his crimes against children first became known, was willing to extradite him to either the Dominican Republic or to Poland to face charges in either country. I cited theologian Mary Hunt, who thought that the Vatican's quick statement about extradition following Goodstein's article indicated that the article had some positive effect, though Hunt seriously doubted that the Vatican would permit Wesołowski to be extradited.

Midweek News Miscellany: Story about Paul Huff and Tom Wojtowick, New Pew Forum Survey, Nienstedt Forces Out Gay Music Minister, Gay Jesuit Quits

A midweek miscellany of articles, several of them commenting on topics we've discussed here recently:

Update to Philadelphia Gay-Bashing Story: 15 Involved, Not 12; 3 Have Been Charged and Turned Themselves In

More developments are taking place re: the 11 September gay-bashing crime in Philadelphia, in which two men were accosted by a crowd of 15 people (15 and not 12, according to the latest reports), who taunted them with gay slurs and then beat them so badly that they sustained multiple serious serious facial injuries. I've blogged previously about (and see here) the reported connection of the crowd of thugs to Archbishop Wood Catholic high school near Philadelphia. Media reports state that the group who accosted the two gay men were all friends who had attended the Catholic school together, and who had gathered for a party at a local restaurant before they beat the two men.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Remembrance of My Grandmother on Her Birthday

Two women sit sewing. You’d call the scene quiet, if you didn’t see the frenetic quick gouges the needle of the younger is making through the mending she has knotted in her hands. 

Where in Our World Today Can You Count on Discussions of St. Patrick's Day Parades to Devolve into Slurs about Gay Men and Anal Sex? Hint: C-A-T-H-O-L-I-C

In the world in which we live today, in the culture in which we find ourselves now, a culture with an increasing acceptance of LGBT human beings, where can you continue to count on a discussion of a Saint Patrick's day, for Christ's sake!, devolving immediately into crude slurs about gay men and anal sex? Answer to question:

Andrew Sullivan on Story of Paul Huff and Tom Wojtowick: Can the Church Survive in America?

Andrew Sullivan looks at the story of Paul Huff and Tom Wojtowick — two Catholic men who met in a Catholic church, sing in the choir of their parish, have been together over 30 years, and, at the ages of 66 and 73, have just been told they cannot receive the Eucharist because they are married — and asks, "Can the church survive in America?"

Quote for Day: Leonardo Boff on Link Between Christ and Krishna, Charisma and Caritas — Questions Worth Asking

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Two More (Inspirational) Weekend News Stories: Drew Bartscher Speaks Out Against Homophobic Slurs, Brenda Konkel and Robert Bloch Defy City Orders Not to Shelter Homeless

More weekend news stories — these about people who move me by their compassion and courage:

Weekend News: John Shore on Pope Francis and Gay Catholics, Open Letter to New Chicago Archbishop, Reading Synod Tea Leaves, Betty Clermont on Abuse Tracker

For the weekend, a selection of miscellaneous news stories about Catholic-themed issues including the treatment of gay Catholics by Catholic institutions, the synod on the family, and the Catholic media:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Are Gay People Welcome in the Catholic Church? Ask Paul Huff and Tom Wojtowick

Are gay people unwelcome in the Catholic church? Or, why is that so many gay people report that they feel unwelcome in the Catholic church and that the Catholic church treats them like the enemy?

Archbishop Chaput in 2014 Re: Violence and Catholic Schools vs. Archbishop Chaput in 2010 re: Violence and Catholic Schools

Dan Savage, discussing the recent gay-bashing incident in which a group of classmates from Archbishop Wood Catholic high school attacked two men in Philadelphia on 11 September:

Do Gay Catholics Feel Unwelcome? The Never-Ending Discussion, and What a Philadelphia Gay-Bashing Story Has to Tell Us

In the last several days, I've hashed and rehashed the never-ending discussion about whether gay Catholics feel unwelcome in our church, and if the answer to that question is yes, then the never-ending discussion becomes one about why gay people feel unwelcome in the Catholic church. I've taken repeated notice (and here) of the recent National Congregations Study's just-published findings which show that, in contrast to every other religious group in the U.S. surveyed by the study, the Catholic church is moving backwards when it comes to welcoming and including gay people in its parishes and institutions.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "All Friends Who Had Attended a Local Catholic High School Together"

Quote for Day: Until Catholic Leaders Demonstrate Epistemic Humility to Listen, Teaching about Marriage, Family, and Sexuality Will Remain Unconvincing

As I did yesterday, Jamie Manson asks critical questions about Cardinal Sean O'Malley's recent statement that the Catholic church needs to find better ways of demonstrating to gay human beings that we are loved. I zeroed in on the problem of O'Malley's conclusion that gay folks can't understand that they are loved by Catholic leaders until the church "rectifies" the situation in which one gay employee after another of a Catholic institution is fired.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

As Synod on Family Nears, Calls for "Rectifying" Treatment of Gays by Catholic Institutions, Calls for "Listening": Rectified How? Listening When and Where?

And more about a theme I'm discussing today — the hunger of many Catholics for authentic dialogue about the issues to be discussed at the synod on the family. There is, I maintain, a pronounced hunger among Catholics in many parts of the world for dialogue that moves the discussion of the issues on which the synod of the family will focus beyond mere talk to meaningful action. And for dialogue that permits the contributions of those about whom the synod participants will be talking as they issue their definitions of and statements about the family . . . . 

Family Values, Theologians, and Archbishop Nienstedt: A Theological Discussion Pertinent to the Synod on the Family

I just wrote that I'm seeing a strong hunger for authentic dialogue expressed in much commentary in Catholic circles about  the upcoming synod on the family. The hunger for authentic dialogue manifests itself as an impatience with rhetoric that never moves beyond the realm of symbol to effective action. Here's a snapshot of where many American Catholics may be right now, vis-a-vis that hunger for . . . something: for real change in our church and how it does business, for effective action in areas like the abuse crisis, for authentic dialogue that involves talking with and not down to.

Catholic Synod on the Family: Theologians Talking about Women, Democracy and Human Rights, Catholic Families — and Jesus

As the Catholic synod on the family nears, I'm spotting more and more commentary focusing on the distance (in the view of many Catholics) between the rhetoric of church leaders about pastoral issues, and the realtiy lived by those church leaders as they go about their pastoral work. There is a well-articulated fear in many quarters that the synod will be much more about rhetoric than about reality, that it will, essentially, change nothing, especially for those on whom the church's teaching and policies inflict serious pain.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Another Suicide of a Gay Teen: Catholic Context

This heart-breaking story of the suicide of yet another gay teen is a reminder of why it matters — why it should matter — that the Catholic church in the U.S. (or anywhere else) is moving backwards  regarding welcoming and including gay members. And this story is a reminder of why it matters that, as Jerry Slevin notes, as the synod on the family nears, Pope Francis appears to be signaling a complete "non-approach" to the families of gay Catholics.

Question for Synod on Family from Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny: "What Kind of People Did Jesus Mix with and in What Way?"

The Catholic bishop of Antwerp, Johan Bonny, has published a statement on his expectations for the forthcoming synod on the family. An English translation of the statement by Brian Doyle is online now at (pdf file) the website of the Belgian Catholic bishops' conference. I'm struck by the following passage, in which Bonny explains that he hopes the synod won't be a Platonic one that withdraws into "the distant safety of doctrinal debate and general norms," but will "pay heed to the concrete and complex reality of life" and will remember the calling of the church to be a "travelling companion" for its members on their life journeys:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Quote for the Day: "I Find Very Little Evidence in Christian Scriptures That Jesus Preferred Ritual Purity to Compassionate Love"

In a sermon-essay just uploaded (pdf file) to her Enduring Space website, Ruth Krall talks about the struggle within the Mennonite church, in which she is actively involved, over issues of LGBT inclusion. She notes the deep theological-scriptural roots pointing towards an inclusive stance that is being hotly contested by some Mennonite leaders and by groups using threats of financial reprisal if the Mennonite church becomes more welcoming to gay members.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Catholics Have Difficulty Understanding One Another Because There Are not Many Places Left Where They Can Listen to One Another"

More on National Congregations Study's Finding That U.S. Churches Are Moving in Gay-Inclusive Direction — Except Catholics: Whys and Wherefores

Yesterday, I briefly discussed the results of the National Congregations Study's survey released on 11 September, a survey that shows all religious bodies in the U.S. moving in a gay-inclusive direction in recent years except the Catholic church. The survey is receiving wide attention. Its results have been summarized by Cathy Lynn Grossman at the Religion News Service site and at the new CRUX site, and by Michael Paulson for New York Times.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Footnote to Previous Posting: Thank You for Your Comments and Support

It also goes without saying (I'm tagging this comment to what I just posted) that I am deeply grateful to all of you for your comments here this past week, for your emails, and your generous expressions of support and encouragement. I am probably not going to be able to respond to each comment left here following my two postings early in the week. 

Let's Talk: The Continuing Challenge of Blogging in the American Catholic Context

People do want to talk, you know. Together: they want to talk together.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Things This Blog Has Been Called This Week — A Sequel, Responding to Terri Hemker's Question to Me Yesterday

Because Terri Hemker asks me a direct question in this comment here yesterday, and because it's directly related to my reason for needing some time to muster my resources and think about matters for a few days (something I blogged about yesterday), I'm going to contravene my rule of silence now to answer Terri's question with a posting. This is my reply to her in the discussion thread in which she asked her question.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Things This Blog Has Been Called This Week — A Grim Place of Wild Claims and Ranting, Uninformed, Disrespectful, Etc.

Things this blog has been called in public in this week after I posted a posting about Jerry Slevin's recent censorship by National Catholic Reporter:

Correcting Two Mistakes in Yesterday's Postings re: Elizabeth Warren and Larry Summers, and Flagging of Comments in NCR Discussion Threads

In two of my postings yesterday, I posted incorrect information. I want to correct the mistakes in both postings:

A Belated Happy Birthday to Scott Lentine!

I've mentioned to you before (and here) the poetry of Scott Lentine, a young man in Massachusetts who contacted me by email several years ago, and has shared his poetry and other work with me in the past few years. As Scott's blog says, he's someone living with high-functioning autism who has a degree in religious studies from Merrimack College.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Two More Saturday A.M. Quotes: "The Disparagement of Their Sexual Orientation . . . Is a Source of Continuing Pain to the Homosexual Community"

Two more quotes for this lazy end-of-summer Saturday morning:

Quote for Day: Elizabeth Warren on What Larry Summers Told Her When She arrived in D.C — Insiders and Outsiders

Elizabeth Warren on what Larry Summers told her when she arrived in D.C. as a Massachusetts senator* (the quotation is from her memoir A Fighting Chance, by way of Moyers & Company): 

Another Weekend, Another Discussion of Censorship: You Don't Build a Credible Catholic Community by Driving People Out of Community

Last year, as I tried to drum up discussion about what seems to me a serious shortcoming of the way National Catholic Reporter moderates comments at its discussion threads, I pointed out that the heavy reliance of NCR on a flagging system to weed out undesirable comments positively invites abuse, and lends itself to a lack of transparency. As I noted, individuals working in tandem with each other to make some people personae non gratae in NCR discussion threads clearly do gang up on those they choose to target and use the flagging system to draw negative attention on the part of NCR's moderators to these commenters.

Friday, September 5, 2014

National Catholic Reporter's Call for Archbishop Nienstedt to Be Transparent and Accountable: Sauce for Nienstedt's Goose Also Sauce for NCR's Gander, in Censoring Jerry Slevin?

As Jerry Slevin pointed out in a posting at his Christian Catholicism site yesterday, in various threads, readers of National Catholic Reporter articles continue to discuss his recent banning by NCRAs I noted in a posting a number of days ago, recently, when Jerry tried logging onto the NCR site to leave comments, he began receiving a message informing him that he had been banned from commenting at the site. Jerry also reported that he had contacted NCR managerial staff to ask why this had been done to him, but had received no explanation.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "I Wonder What Justice Scalia Has to Say Now"

Because isn't he not only a Catholic, but one who frequently claims that his Catholic values infuse everything he does as a Supreme Court justice — and who has argued that Christian values must infuse capitalistic societies if those societies are to succeed? Since capitalism is more Christian than socialism — or so he claims . . . . 

More on War on Obamacare As a War on Minorities and the Poor

I recently wrote that there are some compelling reasons why the states of the old Confederacy are, as a bloc, now the holdout states when it comes to expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. As I noted,

Compare/Contrast: A Black Man Carrying a Steak Knife Confronts Police; A White Man Carrying a Gun Confronts Police

I recently wrote that the critically important question the Ferguson, Missouri, story is asking us is this:
Who has the right to do what to whom?

"The Republican Party's Vision for the Family": On the Rise and Fall of Governor Bob "As the Family Goes, So Goes the Nation" McDonnell

Rachel Maddow, commenting in the video clip above on how "family man" Bob McDonnell's wife-dumping defense failed him yesterday when the court hearing his case returned a guilty verdict against him and his wife on eleven counts of corruption:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

More Recent Discussion of Problem of Online Trolls (and Misogyny): Questions for National Catholic Reporter

More in the ongoing discussion of the damage trolls (and heavy-handed censorship) are doing to online discussion spaces: at Salon yesterday, Colin McEnroe argues persuasively that if internet discussion sites don't soon deal proactively with "orange-fanged morons" trolling these sites, the promise of the internet as a place for open, fruitful discussion of important issues affecting all of us will be choked in its infancy. As many other observers of the trolling phenomenon also note, McEnroe points out that an overwhemling percentage of the online attacks target women.

Death Penalty in News: New Evidence Exonerates Men for Whom Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Promoted Death Penalty

As the New York Times notes today, a judicial development in North Carolina this week provides a "textbook example" of much that is broken in the American justice system, as well as more evidence that 'the death penalty is irretrievably flawed as well as immoral." The judicial development: as Ed Mazza reports (along with Jonathan Drew) at Huffington Post, on Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Leon Sasser overturned the conviction of Henry Lee McCollum and Leon Brown, his half-brother, for the rape and murder of Sabrina Buie in Robeson County, North Carolina, in 1983.

Recurring Theme Regarding Pope Francis: Why Does Rhetoric About Poverty Always Ignore Women?

Writing recently in The Guardian, Tina Beattie argues persuasively that Pope Francis has done little to improve the lives of women. Beattie writes,

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Another Day, Another Firing of Gay Teachers in Catholic Institution in U.S.: Today It's Affton, Missouri

This is, unfortunately, not really news, is it? The protagonists change, the place shifts, the circumstances vary slightly from story to story. But the tired old story remains essentially the same, no matter who it's happening to now or where it's happening. 

Expansion of Medicaid Under Affordable Care Act: The Elephant in the Living Room (Hint: Fergit, Hell!)

Yesterday, I linked to an article by Stephen Mihm in the Boston Globe in which Mihm notes that socioeconomic inequality thrives in the states of the old Confederacy — the slaveholding states of the American Union — as a direct and intended result of the slave system. As Mihm points out, from Emancipation forward, the powers that be in the South have been conspicuously resistant to "public goods" — to schools, libraries, and other institutions that serve the public good by serving everyone. White Southerners have been ambivalent about such institutions quite specifically because they serve white and black citizens, the descendants of slaveholders along with the descendants of slaves.

National Catholic Reporter Responds to Jerry Slevin's Request for Information about His Recent Censorship at NCR Site

Jerry Slevin has now received an email from Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter's editor, responding to Jerry's request for information about why he recently found himself banned from commenting at the NCR website. In a posting today at his Christian Catholicism site, Jerry publishes Coday's email (which he received yesterday), along with his own email on August 13 asking for information about why he had been banned.